Kentucky lawmakers are back at the drawing board once again in hopes of getting the legislative grind to finally get on board with a proposal to legalize medical marijuana.
But the debate has become so convoluted that they are now fighting for crumbs.
According to a report from the Courier-Journal, state Senator Morgan McGarvey of Louisville is on the verge of introducing a proposal aimed at legalizing a medical marijuana program. Unfortunately, the measure is not at all comprehensive, as it seeks to give exclusive access to patients at the end of their lives.
The bill, which is expected to be filed in the coming weeks, would give physicians the ability to issue recommendations for the herb if a patient has been diagnosed with a terminal illness or placed in hospice care.
“It’s 2017,” McGarvey said on Wednesday before the joint House-Senate Health and Welfare Committee. “I think it’s time we had a conversation about medical marijuana without snickering.”
McGarvey submitted a similar bill earlier this year, but, even with its ultra-restrictive language, the measure did not manage to gain any traction. It seems the majority of the lawmakers in the Bluegrass State are still convinced that allowing stage-4 cancer patients to smoke marijuana will somehow transition into a full legal scene straight out of Colorado.
In a recent interview with Kentucky Public Radio, McGarvey said that terminally ill patients are already getting their hands on marijuana in order to help them through their final days. Therefore, he believes, it is only common sense to give these patients the compassion they deserve by not forcing them to seek relief in the black market.
“People right now are seeking out marijuana in Kentucky when they have cancer, when they have really serious illnesses, but they’re doing it illegally,” McGarvey said. “What we’re hearing from Democrats and Republicans, from physicians, from people across the board is we need to provide some relief for people who have really serious illnesses.”
Although Kentucky has had a low-THC program on the books for the past few years, the state legislature has struggled to come to terms on any kind of comprehensive program. Lawmakers would rather speculate about the potential risks involved rather than consider the evidence provided by other jurisdictions with similar laws in place.
Even Governor Matt Bevin, a Republican, has said that he is open to allowing Kentuckians to use medical marijuana.
“I am not opposed to the idea of medical marijuana,” the governor said recently, according to the Associated Press. “If prescribed like other drugs, if administered in the same way that we would other pharmaceutical drugs, I think it would be appropriate in many respects.”
Incidentally, the debate has dragged on for so long that some marijuana advocates have taken matters into their own hands.
A group of plaintiffs recently filed a complaint in Franklin County Circuit Court that argues the state’s outlaw status on medical marijuana violates their constitutional rights. The lawsuit emphasizes that the government cannot arbitrarily prevent the use of effective medicine.
After Wednesday’s committee meeting, McGarvey told reporters that, while his bill is extremely limited, it would positively affect almost everyone in the state.
“Everybody has somebody in their life who has suffered from cancer or who has had a debilitating illness at the end of their life where they want some relief,” he said.
Although lawmakers might not be ready for legal marijuana, the people are. One of the latest Kentucky Health Issues Polls shows that 80 percent of the voters believe marijuana should be made legal for medicinal use.